We have just received the latest version of the high-tech Talus tractor – the indispensable vehicle needed to launch our lifeboat at various locations and in the many different conditions that nature throws at us.The tractor articulates hence its nickname of ‘Bendy’ – the original and very successful design goes back to the 1980’s. On the outside ‘Bendy 2’ looks the same and is the same size – all the changes are within to give it a very impressive performance – more responsive & more sensitive controls. Much improved all terrain capability and better ability to get out of difficult situations without the need to employ various recovery techniques eg: sand anchor. In addition many improvements to winching capability, lighting and a host more.
The tractor employs a hydraulic drive system which on ‘Bendy 1’ sent power to the wheels through an axle at the front and rear. On the new one the cross axles have been removed and a motor is attached to each wheel plus other changes to the hydraulic control enables better power spread and torque from the same engine as the earlier version. This system relies on up to date computer control and has lots in common with racing car / high performance 4×4 technology .
Lots more detail improvements have been made with the inclusion of a joystick control as an alternative to the 2 x steering wheels – great for close in manoeuvre. Why 2 steering wheels ? -as on ‘Bendy 1’ basically the driver faces forward when driving on the road – when it comes to launching the lifeboat the seat swivels so that he now faces the launch carriage for launch / recovery and operation of the powerful winch.
What happens to ‘Bendy 1’ ? – as this worked so well for many years it seemed sensible to upgrade the vehicles to the Mk2 specification when they are replaced and not build a totally new vehicle – saving a large amount of expenditure. The engine, body and much of the original design is proven technology and as we keep our kit in tip top condition has lots of life to give. The new design has been in development for 3 years and our Bendy will be the 5th into service in the RNLI.
During the last few days all our drivers have been undergoing conversion training as there is lots to learn.
It does not have a music system – perhaps for the Mk3 !!
Bendy going through its paces during conversion training – Click on image below to enlarge: